Fall-Blooming Crocus: Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day November 2012

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

I am always looking for ways to extend the bloom season later into the fall and earlier into the spring. I had planted some Crocus speciosus at my old garden intermingled with some colchicum, thinking they would bloom together. Wrong! The crocus bloomed later. I took advantage of that fact here at the new house, and planted these crocus generously in front of a floor to ceiling window, where they can be appreciated from the comfort of a woodstove-heated room.

Fall blooming crocus - Crocus speciosus

These fall-blooming crocus were planted earlier this fall. Crocus speciosus blooms later than all other bulbs in my garden.

I purchased 50 C. speciosus ‘Conqueror’ and 50 C. speciosus ‘Oxonian’ from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. The corms arrived the first week of September and the instructions said to plant immediately. Since I knew they wouldn’t bloom until very late October or even November, I confess I did not make them my top priority and they didn’t get planted until the end of September. (I was busy planting colchicums that were blooming in the bag before that!)

Plant Immediately Upon Receipt

However, I had also bought 10 C. cartwrightianus ‘Albus’ and 10 C. ochroleucus and planted them on the same day as the speciosus. I am thinking now it was a mistake to wait to plant these. I did not realize that some consider C. cartwrightianus to be a form of C. sativus, the saffron crocus. I am not even sure C. sativus is hardy here, and as Frances of Fairegarden points out, it has a much different growth pattern. The leaves of C. sativus (and by extension, I am guessing, C. cartwrightianus ‘Albus’) emerge at the same time as the flowers. They bloom earlier in the season, early October in her warmer climate, as well. Here, there is just an empty area where I planted them. So, I may have inadvertently killed these two crocus species by not planting them sooner. Learn from my mistake!

Can’t Tell Them Apart

While I am enjoying the C. speciosus blooms, I have to confess I can’t tell them apart.

Crocus speciosus 'Conqueror'

I’m pretty sure this is Crocus speciosus ‘Conqueror’

Fall Crocus speciosus 'Oxonian'

I’m pretty sure this is Crocus speciosus ‘Oxonian’

They are labeled, but I can’t remember which picture I took first! They look more different in these two photos than they do to my eye. The patch of ‘Conqueror’ seems to be emerging a tad bit later than the patch of ‘Oxonian,’ and ‘Conqueror’ seems darker in bud. But when fully opened in the sunshine I can’t tell them apart, and neither can my family. I have no problem with that. If I were ordering them again, though, I wouldn’t get named varieties if the plain species were less expensive. But these are absolutely the only thing blooming outdoors for me in mid-November. We’ve had frosts and hard freezes and on Tuesday we woke to about two inches of snow, which has since melted. If you are interested in extending your season of bloom, I heartily recommend these fall-blooming corms.

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Shiela @ Arundel Arboretum East Sussex December 11, 2012, 4:57 am

What beautiful little flowers. I hope you’re crocus survived!

Saif Malik December 9, 2012, 5:45 am

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Jared December 7, 2012, 2:59 pm

Wow…very pretty little flower. Would love to see them popping through the snow! Thanks for sharing.

Louis December 6, 2012, 5:07 pm

When the snow comes and the Crocus begin to pop up out of the ground in early winter. I begin to plant Crocus believe it or not in the snow during the fall.

Josh December 1, 2012, 5:54 pm

I know how hard it can be to believe that you can grow anything in the winter but it really can be done. I have written a short ebook on this subject that I am giving away at my website http://www.organic-gardening-secrets.com totally free I promise. I just enjoy gardening and I enjoy writing as well. I hope you will visit and enjoy you may learn something you didn’t know. 🙂

Diane C November 21, 2012, 7:42 pm

I’m really a gardening ingenue and always thought crocus were only spring blooms. I’m going to make it a point to plant some fall ones in the same general spot.

Julie November 19, 2012, 8:05 am

Uh-oh, now there are more plants to add to my growing wish list! I love crocus, and fall blooming crocus might just need to find a home in our gardens. I ordered saffron crocus this year (which still needs to be planted–eek), but that’s heading to the herb garden. Crocus are so cheerful–the color of the ‘Conquer’ is just gorgeous. Now, I have to head over to the bulb site to see if there are any end-of-season specials for crocus bulbs that need a good home! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Carol - May Dreams Gardens November 17, 2012, 11:50 am

I must plant some of those next year. They look like great “season extenders”, which we all need.

Thanks for joining in for bloom day!

gardenbug November 17, 2012, 5:03 am

Such a lovely scene! I’d love to try for such a patch here. (I’m in Ontario)

Jean November 16, 2012, 7:16 pm

Oh, the complexity of it all! Thanks for letting us know how the planting of these little guys went. I’m also buying more and more bulbs, and it’s always a bummer to be disappointed. But your Crocus look great among the browned leaves!

Donna@Gardens Eye View November 16, 2012, 6:32 am

Kathy how different our gardens can be even when so close. I too want to plant more fall crocus and they lasted a long time but we had few freezes. Still a few blooms going but they will be ended soon I am sure…

Annie in Austin November 16, 2012, 12:42 am

They’re so beautiful, Kathy!
But if they act like my bulbs the bloom-times mentioned in the literature will mean nothing next year. So many times I plan combinations that work one time, but after the bulbs settle in they make up new schedules for following years.

Happy GBBD!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Corner Garden Sue November 15, 2012, 10:04 pm

Lovely blooms! You sound like me, forgetting which is which. LOL We haven’t had snow yet, but I hope we get a decent amount this winter.

Lea November 15, 2012, 9:39 pm

Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!
Lea’s Menagerie

Scott Weber November 15, 2012, 7:56 pm

Whatever their names…they really are beautiful!

Gail November 15, 2012, 7:22 pm

They are such a sweet flower and color for fall and close to the ground is perfect when it’s tall asters, goldenrod etc time! I treat them like annuals since the rodents delight in eating them.

Kathy Purdy November 15, 2012, 7:40 pm

The rodents were a concern of mine as well. I went to a lot of trouble making sure they were surrounded by grit. Then a cat adopted us. A mouser. I don’t think she bats one thousand but she’s got them all worried.

Leslie November 15, 2012, 3:43 pm

I just planted a few of those I picked up at Half Moon Bay Nursery and they bloomed within 2 weeks of my planting them! I think I need to move them though…they aren’t in the best spot for viewing as it turns out. When do you think the best time would be for moving them?

Kathy Purdy November 15, 2012, 4:09 pm

My guess would be to move them just as the foliage is dying down–but that is only a guess. Try asking Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

joene at joene's garden November 15, 2012, 3:20 pm

Love all these crocus, Kathy, no matter the variety. I’ll enjoy yours … deer eat mine. I plant spring blooming crocus in a deer-protected area but have yet to try fall crocus there. Maybe next year.

commonweeder November 15, 2012, 11:27 am

I have one patch of autumn crocus, but they are long gone. I planted early daffs and muscari where I can see them from our dining table.

Frances November 15, 2012, 6:48 am

Hi Kathy, those fall blooming crocus are wonderful, the color, the form and best of all the late blooming when little else is new and fresh. Perhaps the relative of the saffron crocus will surprise you and bloom next year. It is tricky with them, I have found. Thanks for the linkage and Happy GBBD!